Allergic reaction from insect bites and stings

Most individuals will not end up with severe symptoms after being stung or bitten by an insect, but some are known to react harshly since they developed antibodies to the venom.

An individual is suffering from an allergic reaction if sustained insect bites and stings. The reactions can be categorized as the following:

  • Large localized reaction – this reaction can trigger other symptoms such as rash, itchiness and swelling
  • Minor localized reaction – this is considered normal and does not require testing, but the affected area will not be sore for a few days
  • Systemic reaction – this reaction requires immediate medical attention since it can be a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction or anaphylaxis

Even though insect bites and stings have been a usual cause of anaphylaxis, it is uncommon to end up with the severe reaction after an insect sting and rarely deadly. It is best to take a close look on large localized reactions and systemic reactions so that you are prepared.

Close look on large localized reactions

Allergic reaction to insect bites and stings

If the individual has been bitten or stung several times by one or more insects, the symptoms can be severe since a large amount of venom have been injected.

If an individual experiences a large localized reaction after sustaining a bite or sting by an insect, a wide area surrounding the bite or sting site eventually swells up. In most cases, the area can reach up to 30 cm wide or the whole leg or arm can swell up.

The swelling can last longer than 48 hours but can start to subside after a few days. This can be sore, but the swelling is not considered dangerous unless it affects the airways.

If the individual has been bitten or stung several times by one or more insects, the symptoms can be severe since a large amount of venom have been injected. A large localized reaction is likely to occur several hours after being bitten or stung such as rashes, nausea or swollen or painful joints.

Close look on systemic reactions

An individual is likely to end up with a systemic reaction if he/she ends up with insect bites and stings before and becomes sensitized, especially if it was recently. Individuals who have seen sensitized to bee stings are more likely to end up with a systemic reaction than those stung by wasps.

Call for emergency assistance if the individual has been bitten or stung and ends up with the following symptoms:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Wheezing, difficulty breathing, hoarseness
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Swollen face or mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Confusion, agitation or agitation

It is uncommon for a systemic reaction to be fatal especially among children, but those who have an existing heart or breathing problem face a higher risk.

What to do for infected bites

The insect bites and stings can oftentimes become infected. The symptoms of an infected insect bites and stings include swollen glands, pus in or around the bite or sting site as well as increased pain, redness and swelling.

In some cases, the bites are swollen and reddened, but other types of bites with these symptoms might be normal and could indicate an infection. Set an appointment with a doctor if you suspect that an insect bite or sting might have become infected or if worried about the symptoms.

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